Currently airing on television is ‘MasterChef Australia the Professionals’ hosted by legendary British chef, Marco Pierre White.
I have to admit that the few episodes I have watched of this new series have resonated with me in a way that the amateur versions of this show have not. For starters the contestants are already real chefs, not accountants/lawyers/teachers etc. dreaming of donning chef’s whites, opening restaurants and writing cook books.
These passionate, overworked, desensitized properly skilled yet humanly flawed real life chefs have emerged from the underbelly of Australian restaurant and hotel kitchens. These chefs know firsthand the reality of slogging it out in a professional kitchen; chipping away at the fortress that is the ladder of this particular occupation’s success. They understand what it means to sleep little and eat badly; surviving on nothing but coffee and adrenaline. They are a tough bunch to read but in each of them you can catch a glimpse of an innate competitive determination, as they stand united and steadfast ready to uphold the glory of the title Chef. It is magnificent viewing.
Marco Pierre White has a remarkably mesmerizing voice, even when he takes control of the pass and gets two teams of a mere five chef’s each to serve a three course meal to 120 guests in less than sixty minutes. It’s terrifying to watch because empathy causes memory remnants of my own stress during service to reappear. My kiddos think it hilarious and walk around the house yelling “Yes Marco, Yes Marco, Yes Marco”.
Last night a young chef was eliminated for failing to deliver 75 dessert soufflés in one hour. I felt it a sad injustice as this chef had sacrificed his own preparation to help his team, a decision that went unreciprocated. Kitchens are hard; being ill prepared is always rewarded by failure.
That being said, do you want to bake a soufflé? Oh c’mon, lets. You are going to love it.
There is nothing difficult about this recipe; it is just a little extension of a cheese sauce really. Also because we live in an age of thermostatically controlled ovens (hoorah!) your success is pretty much guaranteed.
Did I mention that there is a glory to gain here folks? Just before the soufflé is ready, gather the children around you and let them watch you remove them from the oven. I promise you they will ooo and ahhh when they see its beauty. At least mine did, but to be fair they were really hungry so it may just have been relief.
I am happy to report however that my soufflé won those kids over, and they have asked for me to make it again. Do let me know how it goes.
- 500 ml (2 C) milk
- 80 g (⅓ C) butter
- 5 ml (1 t) Dijon Mustard
- 80 g cake flour
- 5 ml (1 t) nutmeg
- 65 ml (¼ C) grated parmesan cheese
- 500 ml (2 C) grated cheddar cheese
- 30 ml (2 T) parsley and basil leaves, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 eggs, separated
- Prepare 6 ramekins (soufflé dishes) by brushing them well with melted butter and thereafter sprinkling the bottom and the sides of each ramekin with the grated parmesan cheese. Set aside.
- Heat the milk.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the Dijon mustard and stir well. Add the flour and use a wooden spoon to stir the butter and flour together into a thick, smooth paste.
- Using a whisk add 250 ml (1 C) of the milk to the paste and continue whisking until the sauce is smooth and thick. Repeat with the remaining milk.
- Cook the sauce over a low heat for a 2-3 minutes to cook out the flour.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cheeses and the herbs. Once the cheeses are melted into the sauce, season the sauce to taste.
- Whisk in the egg yolks and set aside to cool.
- In the meantime, in a clean dry bowl, whisk the egg whites until firm. Gently and lightly fold the egg whites, ⅓ at a time, into the base sauce. Take care to keep the mixture as light as possible.
- Spoon the mixture evenly into the ramekins, filling them ¾ of the way up. Run your thumb around the edge of the ramekin.
- Place the ramekins onto a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 190˚C for 25 – 30 minutes or until the soufflés are well risen and firm to the touch.
- Serve immediately